The meaning of compatibility is adequacy between the husband and the wife in terms of lineage, religion, and social status in order to push away shame in certain matters. (1) Compatibility is substantial in men without women because the Prophet (peace be upon him) married from the Arab tribes in general. (2)
Compatibility is substantial in the following matters: religion, lineage, freedom, occupation, and money.
Scholars have agreed to consider compatibility in religion, righteousness, and integrity; however they differed in the rest according to two views:
The first view is: Compatibility is not substantial except in religion, which is the view of Imam Malik and his Companions (3) as well as some great scholars such as ibn Taymiyah and his student Ibn Al Qayyim (may Allah bestow mercy on their souls). Ibn Al Qayyim (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said: “The connotation of the Prophet's ruling is to consider compatibility in religion as essential and complementary. A Muslim woman should not marry a disbeliever and a chaste woman should not marry a lewd either. Neither the Qur'an nor the Sunnah declared the reason behind compatibility. A Muslim is forbidden to marry the wicked adulterer without considering lineage, profession, richness or an occupation. Therefore, a servant may marry a rich lofty woman if he is a chaste and good person as it is permissible for other than the people of Quraysh to marry the Qurayshi women. Likewise, the people who are not Hashemite may marry the Hashemite women and poor may marry rich women.” (4)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked for the hand of his cousin Zainab bint Jahsh who was from Quraysh to his freed slave Zayd ibn Harithah and advised Fatimah bint Qays, when she consulted him, to marry Usamah ibn Zayd. The Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) understood that meaning “Muslims are compatible to one another” and acted according to that understanding. Accordingly, `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf married his sister to Bilal, Abu Hudhayfah married Fatimah bint Al Walid ibn `Utbah to his freed slave Salim, and Al Miqdad ibn Al Aswad married Duba`ah bint Az-Zubayr. (5)
Furthermore, the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which reads: "When someone, whom you trust his religion and morals, came to you for marriage, let him marry otherwise it will be a great Fitnah (sedition) on earth and a wide corruption” is a clear evidence to consider compatibility in religion only.
Sahl ibn Sa`d (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man passed by Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked (the Companions): "What is your opinion about this (passer-by)?" He replied, "This (passer-by) is from the noble class of people. By Allah, if he should ask for a lady's hand in marriage, he ought to be given her in marriage, and if he intercedes for somebody, his intercession will be accepted. Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) kept quiet, and then another man passed by and Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) asked the same man (his companion) again: "What is your opinion about this (second) one?" They (the Companions) said: "O Allah's Messenger! This person is one of the poor Muslims. If he should ask a lady's hand in marriage, no-one will accept him, and if he intercedes for somebody, no one will accept his intercession, and if he talks, no-one will listen to his talk." Then Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "This (poor man) is better than such a large number of the first type (i.e. rich men) as to fill the earth." (6)
Another proof not to consider compatibility in terms of money and profession is Allah's Saying: "And marry those among you who are single (i.e. a man who has no wife and the woman who has no husband) and (also marry) the Sâlihûn (pious, fit and capable ones) of your (male) slaves and maid-servants (female slaves). If they be poor, Allâh will enrich them out of His Bounty. And Allâh is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knowing (about the state of the people)." (7) This Ayah contains exhortation to advance the pious poor person in marriage and gives glad tiding to recieve more sustenance from Allah (Glory be to Him) if we do so.
When Abu Hind cupped the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), he said: "O Banu Bayadah, marry AbuHind (to your daughter), and ask him to marry (his daughter) to you. He said: The best thing by which you treat yourself is cupping." (8) So, he exhorted the people to accept Abu Hind as a groom even though he was a cupper, but because he was a religious and righteous person.
Dr. Ilham Badr Al Jabiry
Ph.D in the department of Sunnah and its sciences
(1) See: Mughny Al Muhtaj 3/165 and the footnotes of Ar-Rawd Al Murbi` 6/278.
(2) See: Bada'i` As-Sana'i` 2/320 and Al Mubdi` 51.
(3) See At-Tamhid of Ibn `Abdul-Bar 9/163.
(4) Zad Al Ma`ad 4/22.
(5) See Al Jami` Li Ahkam Al Qur'an 14/187.
(6) Reported by Al Bukhari, book of Al Akfa' fi Ad-Din (compatibility in religion), p. 5091.
(7) Surat An-Nur: 32.
(8) Reported by Abu Dawud, book of marriage, chapter on compatibility, p. 2102-240/2.